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Lisa Stansfield European Tour 2013 – Episode 16: Manchester to Birmingham

June 18th, 2013

And so it was that after last night’s revelry we were off to Symphony Hall, Birmingham for the last show of the UK tour.

Before that though, there was the business of breakfast!

Andrea had stayed at the Lowry Hotel before and had been telling us for days how legendary the breakfast was there so we were all very much looking forward to this particular morning. It’s the little things…..

Oh, my word! How right she was, though. I can honestly say that was the best cooked breakfast I’ve ever had in my life – and I’ve had a few I can tell you……. (THANK YOU!)

Bacon, Sausage, Poached Eggs, Beans, Hash Browns, and my particular favourite……… Black Pudding!

What a way to start the day.

There was however, one notable absentee from this culinary event….

Fortunately I had had enough foresight to drink about a bath full of water before I went to bed so I was feeling fine. The same could not, however, be said for Mickey, who spent the morning in his room licking his wounds.

Manchester to Birmingham is only about a couple of hours so we left around 1.00pm by which time Mick looked almost human and so off we set for the sound check for the final time for a while.

Early check in at the Malmaison in Birmingham meant that Mickey had another hour or so of recovery time and I myself set about writing the blog post.

Symphony Hall is a beautiful new concert hall with all mod cons and amazing facilities but somehow it lacked the atmosphere of many of the other theatres we had played at on this leg. Perhaps it’s because it was pretty much designed for classical music – and indeed is the home of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra – I don’t know but, somehow it felt a little stiff from the outset. Not only at the soundcheck but, as it turned out, also at the show.

Sound check at Symphony Hall, Birmingham

It’s another of those strange but seemingly immutable laws that the last date of a tour is often a disappointment and, unlike Milan on the Europe leg (see blog No.8), this was one of those slightly understated shows.

Don’t get me wrong. The audience clearly loved the show. We certainly loved it. We always do…

But somehow, it felt just a little stiff and not as effusive as usual. I can’t quite put my finger on why, though. Lisa was great as usual, everything went well with the band, sound was good and the audience were still screaming for more at the end. But somehow……..

Anyway, this seems an appropriate time to say a massive thank you to Allen & Heath for inventing what has to be the best thing I have come across in years!

I’ve explained in previous blogs the crucial importance of good on-stage monitoring – particularly for brass players and singers who don’t have a knob to turn up when they can’t hear themselves.

So, ordinarily we rely on the monitor engineer (Meado) to initially set us up with a good balance of the various instruments in our monitors and then, throughout the show to turn stuff up or down depending on how we are feeling, how loud the rest of the band get or a combination of the two.

The monitor desk

However, you can’t always get a good line of sight to him and, in any case, he is largely focusing on Lisa’s sound as well as doing the same for everyone else. That’s why, during a gig, you will often see guys in a band gesticulating wildly to the side of the stage. They aren’t telling someone to clear off, you can’t park there – they are trying to catch the monitor guys attention because they can’t hear themselves.

So, along come the clever chaps at Allen & Heath and they only go and develop an iPad app for it!!

Yes folks, there truly is an app for everything and this little puppy is just about the most useful app I’ve got on my iPad.

Basically, as you can see below, I can connect to the monitor desk via wifi and control my own mix!

My own personal monitor mixer!!!!  (NB: Dave’s keyboards RIGHT OFF! Ha ha , sorry Dave :-))

Now, I can actually smell the ambivalence of those of you who have never been a brass player on stage with a drummer and some amps, but those of you who have……

WHAT ABOUT THAT THEN? Is that not the best thing ever?

Allen & Heath – whoever came up with that idea, promote them……

and give them a pay rise……

and a company car……..

and a fortnight’s holiday……

and some champagne!

After the show Mickey headed straight back to Donnelly Mansions in Hartlepool (oh, yes!) and the rest of us went back to the Hotel for a last night drink and to celebrate the birthday of Lisa’s sister, the lovely Karen. I must say she’s looking great for 25!

To be honest though, it was a fairly sedate affair as many were still feeling the after effects of Manchester so, around 1.00am we decided to make the after show in Manchester the official end of UK Tour party…… and went to bed.

Next morning, a fairly brisk 10.00am leave for the tedious trip home via everyone’s house.

So, that’s the UK tour done. We were meant to be going to Istanbul tomorrow but, for obvious reasons that was postponed until September and so we now have a few weeks off until we restart in Italy in July.

As usual, it has been an absolute hoot and an complete validation of my decision to take a little time out from my business to get back on the road again. However, we’re all pretty tired now and ready for a rest and a dose of normality.

I sincerely hope you have enjoyed reading my humble blogging efforts so far. I have certainly enjoyed writing them and I will absolutely continue when we restart the tour in July. In fact, I will be posting a few interim blogs over the coming weeks so, if you care, you might like to keep an eye out for those.


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